There’s a great scene in the classic 1977 movie Slap Shot that accurately sums up the state of minor league hockey over 30 years ago.
And, apparently, today.
The Charlestown Chiefs are playing the Syracuse Bulldogs in the championship of the Federal League. During an all-out brawl, where almost every player on the team is fighting a player from the opposing side, a Chiefs player performs a striptease for the fans while skating around the rink.
This prompts Tim McCracken, a Bulldogs player, to protest in the referee’s face.
McCracken: “Stop him! This is a serious game! It’s not a freak show.”
Referee: “What do ya mean a serious game, huh? What are you talking about? This is hockey!”
Minor league players at the time lamented the film over its absurd but accurate representation of minor league hockey.
Despite being over 30 years old, Slap Shot is still relevant today.
At Sunday’s AHL (the NHL’s minor league system) between the Rockford Icehogs and the Chicago Wolves, a full-out brawl broke out between both teams.
This past January, the Wolves (again) broke out in a brawl with the Grand Rapids Griffins.
I don’t know if I was watching a minor league hockey game or a scene straight out of Slap Shot.
Here’s a scene from the 1977 movie, and I’ll let you decide if you see a difference.
The cheap shot; the all-team brawl; the announcing style of the commentator; the referees’ lack of ability to control the mess. Add it up and it shows how spot on Slap Shot was.
It’s funny to see that not much as changed in minor league hockey since.
One criteria for a “classic” is its ability to feel relevant in any era. Slap Shot remains the best sports movie ever created for that exact reason.